Gwen Araujo and Brandon Teena
Gwen Araujo (Edward Araujo Jr.) was born February 24, 1985. She was an American teenage pre-operative transgender woman. She was born in Newark, California. Gwen Araujo was murdered by four men: Jose Merel, Jason Cazares, Michael Magidson, and Jaron Nabors because the men did not like that she was born a man. Two of the four men had a romantic relationship with Araujo (Jose Merel and Michael Magidson). The murder happened October 3, 2002. On October 3, 2002, Araujo attended a party at a house rented by Jose Merel and his brother, Paul Merel. Also at the party was Jason Cazares, Michael Magidson, Jaron Nabors, Paul Merel, Emmanuel Merel (Paul and Jose’s brother), and Paul’s girlfriend Nicole Brown. At the party, Gwen was discovered by forced inspection by Nicole Brown, to have male organs. After Nicole found out about Gwen’s male sex organ, the men that she had a romantic relationship became violent with Araujo. Magidson put Araujo in a chokehold. Later, Michael proceeded to punch Araujo in the face and put her in a chokehold again but was pulled off by the others. Paul, Emmanuel, and Nicole left the house. After Paul, Emmanuel, and Nicole left, Jose struck Gwen in the head with a can of food and a frying pan. Jaron and Jason left in Michael’s truck to go to Jason’s house to get shovels and a pickaxe. When Jason and Jaron returned, Gwen was conscious and sitting on the couch. The assault continued, Michael kneed Gwen in the head, against the living room wall, making her go unconscious. Jason kicked Gwen. After the assault, Gwen was taken to a garage of the home. Jaron testified that Michael strangled Gwen with a piece of rope and Jason hit Gwen with a shovel but Michael testified that Jaron was the person who strangled Gwen and he did not see Gwen die. Jose was cleaning the blood from the carpet while Gwen was being strangled so he did not see who actually strangled Gwen. Gwen was hog- tied (Tied at the arms and at the legs), wrapped in a blanket, and placed in the back of Michael’s truck. Michael, Jason, and Jaron drove Gwen’s lifeless body four hours away from Newark, California and buried her near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gwen’s autopsy photos showed that the cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head. Two days after Gwen’s murder, Jaron Nabors, one of the four attackers, led the local authorities to where Gwen was buried in exchange for his guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter and a promise to testify at the trial. Alameda County Sheriff’s Office dispatched four crime scene investigators and two detectives were sent to recover Gwen’s body. The four accused of the murder were: Michael Magidson, 22; Jaron Nabors, 19; Jose Merel, 22; and Paul Merel, 24. Paul Merel was quickly released because Nicole Brown came forward to the police telling them that Paul had left that night with her. Paul and Nicole were never charged and became witnesses for the prosecution. Jason Cazares was arrested for over a month after the defendants, after Nabors accused Cazares in a letter to Nabor’s girlfriend explaining that he (Nabors) was involved in the killing. Nabors later testified against the other three in a deal with the DA for a lesser charge of manslaughter and an 11 year prison sentence after police monitored a telephone conversation between Nabors and his girlfriend, Delores Ojeda. Gwen’s mother requested judge to change her daughters’ legal name to Gwen. On the first anniversary of the murder, Horizons Foundation created the Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education. The Fund's purpose is to support school-based programs in the nine-county Bay Area that promote understanding of transgender people and issues through annual grants. Through this fund, Araujo's mother and family speak in middle and high schools about transgender awareness and understanding. Her life was made into a movie. The movie is called, A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo...
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